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Concerns Voiced Over Sweeping New India Surveillance Law. Legit?

IndiaIndia’s Criminal Procedure Identification bill passed in parliament last week and is raising concerns about government snooping.

The law requires those arrested or detained to provide biometric data (such as retina scans) and the government will retain this for up to 75 years.  In a country without data protection laws like the GDPR, this is making some people nervous.

Providing biometric data incident to arrest is nothing new in many countries.  In the US, for example, if you are arrested you will be fingerprinted and those prints merged into the FBI’s master file.  However, if you are not convicted, these prints are supposed to be removed, though you may have to go to court to do so.  Of course, there are many other ways you might voluntarily supply your prints – everything from applying for a concealed carry firearm license to getting a pilot’s license to applying to work in a school.

Fun fact: you can run a background check on yourself with the FBI by submitting your own prints.  See here.

India already collects fingerprints, photographs, and other basic biometric data (e.g., height, eye color, shoe size) at time of arrest.  Are retina scans more invasive than fingerprints?  I don’t know.  But what is concerning is that India is simply saying that all data will be required for essentially your lifetime.

As Vikram Singh, former police chief of Uttar Pradesh state, said: “You have enhanced the scope of the collection of samples but downgraded the control and supervisory mechanism.”  How will this data be used?  Who will have access?  India has been vague.



1 Comment

  1. desi:

    So all except maybe a dozen (or a thousand?) indians get aadhaar card as a universal ID, and that stores biometrics fingerprint + iris scan + photo. So I’m not sure what this bill adds on top of it. Perhaps aadhaar not being mandatory has something to do with it. Govt

    May 17, 2022 @ 1:05 am | Reply

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